“social anxiety”

I hate self-diagnosis. I think it’s inaccurate and risky. That said, we all suffer from self-diagnosis-itis, (I am tired, please ignore my terrible made up words). I understand that sometimes, you just know. You’ve had allergies for years and the season changes and you start sniffing – it’s safe to assume you’re suffering from your allergies. You wear glasses due to muscle problems which cause headaches, you break your glasses and, while in for repairs, you suffer a headache or two- it’s safe to assume why. Sometimes, people know from past experience and sometimes, they just know.

I have had not-yellow thoughts since I was about eleven years old, so when a doctor formally diagnosed me with depression when I was seventeen, it wasn’t a surprise. Though I had been vaguely aware of there being something wrong with me and I had known what it was really, I refused to acknowledge it until a professional turned to me sitting in his consulting chair (unfortunately with my mother beside me) and broke it down to two words: “severe depression”.

Mental illnesses, in particular, are risky to self-diagnose, but sometimes you just know. While I am not diagnosing myself with social anxiety right now, I am acknowledging that I am displaying symptoms related to it and, may I just say to everyone, social anxiety must really suck if I’m only dealing with some symptoms rather than all of them like many others do.

I have always had a certain level of anxiety in large groups of strangers. It’s the kind of intimidation some people feel when faced with a blind date, a public speech, a new employer, a raging bull or tsunami wave approaching with no escape. Due to this, my usually rational brain often panics when invited to events with new people and finds the smallest excuses to avoid it. A friend who matters dearly to me has been struggling to persuade me to join him for several such events and each time I’ve found a way around it. Somehow he’s a wonderful enough person to have not given up on me yet, I don’t understand how, and persists with invites which I will someday accept (I hope).

Today this came to a head, though. Another friend of mine invited me to go out with him and a friend for the evening and I managed to accept and then decline three times in one day after having a full-on panic attack in my empty bathtub (my place of panic) and overthinking every detail of the evening because of this unknown stranger who would be joining us. His company in itself causes enough anxiety before an extra person is included. And so, after my messing him around the whole day, he did what anyone would do: he called me out on it.

After spending most of high school with friends who knew about my “issues” and were too nice about me cancelling things and a best friend who had a similar phobia followed by work colleagues who understood if I said I was “too tired” and a friend who was too nice to ever get angry to my face, it was another wake-up call I needed. This one broke me completely, though. After a long day of clothes shopping (a disorder related issue related to another post on another day) with two people who often irk and frustrate me and have a personal space issue, I lost it and fell apart in my shower. The crippling fear of losing a friend while simultaneously realising that I cannot keep pulling the “I’m too tired”, “Maybe next time?” and “I’m not up to it today”s forever and just assume that everyone will accept and understand it was seemingly overwhelming.

I don’t like self-diagnosis and am not diagnosing myself. I’m only pointing out that social anxiety, whether it be the disorder or adjective, is a horribly dark entity.

[There are no yellow songs to share with you today lovely people, I’m sorry.]



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